Saturday, July 16, 2016

"With great power" ... comes a realization of how petty I am

  This post was originally supposed to have something of the crafty sort, one of the projects I recently finished, a knitted teddy bear like Mr. Bean's, or perhaps comments about the quilt I'm working on.  Well, this morning I was catching up on the reading I like to do, and ran across this post by SBRE Brown.  If you don't know his work, he mostly deals with fountain pens.  He has written a wonderful piece about the importance of cursive handwriting, and now and again he does a "rant" which I have always found to be far more thought-provoking than rant.  So in his spirit, here's my "rant"...

This has been a rough summer.  We had exactly 39 hours in the UP for vacation to rest and relax due to a bunch of things I won't get into right now, but that's a quick vacation.  (Before you post about how many people don't get a vacation at all, I know, and I realize how lucky I am we got 39 hours of vacation plus 16 hours drive -- but I may as well expose myself as completely petty.)  It's been a stressful summer all around, between schedule issues with Mr. Claraspet's work schedule and the nature of his job.  So we fought and carved out a few days, and had something come up again we all would have cried because July 11th-13th was all we were going to get this summer.  We came home the 13th, and a couple of hours later, this was the sight out the window:

Short version of the story, we got hit with a severe thunderstorm (while all the Detroit newscasters were wailing about Wayne, Monroe and Washtenaw Counties, Macomb County got hit).  Our electrical pole started on fire and gave us quite a show.  At the end, you see me pull away from the window and run.  I just missed catching the arrester blow up on the pole.  Strangely enough, we did not lose power other than off-and-on and a few brownouts.  Others were not so lucky.  One house south of us had a tree go through their garage window, and just to the east of us a tree took down two poles at another house.  There's still trees down in places.

The fried cross brace -- notice the missing arrester on the left -- arrows point to the arresters -- or where they ought to be.

The next day we discovered a hole in the front picture window, and a chip about the size of a dime.  We thought it had been caused by the hail we had in the storm the night before.  Then I found the piece of porcelain arrester in front of the window.  

  I got pretty angry at this point.  I joke that we live in the slums of our township, but we fight hard to try to make our house look nice.  We've spent somewhere around $40,000 in the last 17 years fixing all the things that people did to this house, like putting a hole in the foundation with a sledge hammer, etc.  What we've had to do to this house is a book in itself.  Anyway, I was livid about the window and somebody was going to pay to fix it, and not me for once!

Then yesterday the power company workers came back to fix our pole.  We had power so our pole was their last job out here.  The worker who fixed it said we were pretty lucky the fire stayed at the pole.  It was either a direct lightning strike or one so close it may as well have been direct, and the arrester kept the surge from coming in the house and frying the wires, circuit breaker panel, etc. and causing a fire.  About then I felt pretty petty about a window and decided that a window was a small price to pay considering what could have happened.

No one would blame me for being frustrated, especially if you know what we've been through the last 4 years, with the gas company issues (shaking house) or what we've all had to fix.  But the attitude that "someone was going to pay" for the window, once I calmed down, that hit me like a ton of bricks.  I'm not a vindictive person, as those of you who know me know, but with a lot of things going on lately I have allowed myself to slide down that slope.  I didn't realize how much until now. This is a good reminder to myself to watch out for vindictiveness, and to be more observant when it comes to recognizing the times to be grateful. 

We spent a couple days picking up arrester pieces, and I've saved them, for I am going to make something out of them to help me remember to be grateful in all things and not be vindictive.  I don't know what the window will cost yet, but that's not important anymore.  If my husband lives to come home from work tomorrow morning, THAT'S important.  A window can be replaced.  Family can't.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Glioblastoma sucks!

It's been 48 hours now since the announcement, and I'm still reeling from the news.  Tragically Hip announced Tuesday that Gord Downie has glioblastoma multiforme, aka (in my words) the jerk of brain cancers, the worst of the worst.   I've known two people to die from glioblastoma -- my brother (died 2010), and a friend (died 2009, the week before my grandma).  My thoughts and prayers are with the band and their families, and I send the very best wishes I can from the American side of the border.

The Hip have never had the recognition they ought to have had here in the United States, and I have my private theories about that.  It's a shame because no other music group has given a voice to my generation as they have, and they have done so with integrity and honesty.   

There is so much more I would like to say, but I think I've said all that needs to be said.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Update and Winter Wheat

It's been, well, interesting lately.  I suppose that's a good word for it.  I'm working back into sewing after I had a mishap with my hand crank and a finger, but it was the first time I've ever had a needle through the finger since I started sewing 32 years ago.

I've also been writing again, and after filling 5 notebooks and over 50 pieces of notebook paper, I've put it aside for the moment.  If I had a camera, I'd post a picture of the fountain pens I've been using.  Since I can't, they are (so you can look them up if you wish): Edison Nouveau Premiere in Lilac, Fountain Pen Revolution Triveni Jr in green ebonite, Pilot Metropolitan in purple leopard, Pilot Prera in soft blue (when I discovered that the Metro was too cold on my hand in this weather, I switched the Prera because it was warmer on the hand), and a good old Platinum Preppy (which always work well for me.)  Oh, and on notebook #1 I used an Airmail 67T eyedropper pen (also from FPR).  (Usual legal disclaimers here, NAYY, as we say on Treadle On, all pens and ink I purchased, etc., just a happy customer.)  Inks (because someone will want to know): Noodler's Liberty Elysium (Preppy), custom mix in the Triveni Jr, J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune in the Edison, Noodler's Dark Matter in the Airmail, and Pilot blue-black in the Pilots. 

  Anyway, so tonight I'm a bit blue, long story, part of the problem is I've been watching news again.  I wish the news reporters had to live with their own stories the way I have to live with their work.  The saying about "walking a mile in someone's shoes" says it all.  Well, I haven't read much since the CNV started, so tonight I did.  I read the entire book Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker (1944). 

  A little background -- I first read Winter Wheat about 28 or so years ago, when I was around 12.  My grandma had it on her shelf, and living with them on the farm, I didn't see a library as often as I went through books.  Well, when we moved off the farm I was able to claim it as Grandma didn't want it anymore.   It's probably been about 20 years since I last read it.  It's about Ellen Webb, daughter of a Vermont father and a Russian mother, and it leads up to the beginning of WWII.  It takes place in Montana.

  Throughout the story (Ellen's trip to Minnesota for college, then having to leave to teach a year for money) the wheat serves as a backdrop.  It's always there, unobtrusive, yet controlling, and yet it's a friend, even.  If the wheat does well... if the hail didn't get it... if they can sell for a good price... (short version.)  For all the times I've read this book, the optimism never jumped out at me until tonight.  There's lots of bad events that happen in the book, and yet, that wheat is always there to look forward to, and if it's a bad year, well, there's always the next year...

  That theme rings with me, having grown up on a farm.  The type of farming I knew is dead now, a victim of greed and corporations.  It's gone, never to return, and the county I live in, well, let's not go there (also a victim of greed.)  And even as blue as I am tonight, that little flame of hope is still going, "There's always next year.  Things will be better next year."  So, if you need a little bit of earthy comfort, try Winter Wheat.